Holy Plot Twist, Broadchurch: Watching the First Season

Last week, my sister and I finished watched season one of Broadchurch. Starring David Tennant in all his Scottishness as the grouchy but effective DI Alec Hardy, it tells the story of a small town ripped apart by the murder of a young boy. 

This show is amazingly well done and has some of the most brilliant storytelling I’ve seen on TV. It’s not boring or predictable; you can’t always tell where they’re leading you, so when the puzzle pieces fall into place, you’re completely shocked. 

Obviously I’m not going to spoil this for you, but I will say that the show was so well put together, I didn’t start to suspect the person who ended up being the murderer until the second last episode. The reveal was beautifully executed and the emotional ramifications it had on the other characters reached through the TV and punched me straight in the heart. 

As a writer, it’s fascinating to see how the characters related to each other, the different relationships and the different levels in each relationship. It was fantastic watching how the loose ends were tied up neatly without seeming obvious or false or coincidental. Even when time was running out and we had more questions than answers, I knew that it wouldn’t let me down; the show is too clever to cobble together a mishmash of an ending. On a show that was this gritty, this realistic, this multifaceted, the resolution had to be just as smart as the lead-up. And oh, what an ending it was. 

One thing I loved – apart from getting to know the characters – was the way you, the viewer, solved the case right alongside DI Hardy and DS Miller (brilliantly portrayed by Olivia Colman who should have won all the awards for her performance, especially in the latter half of the season). You learned all the evidence at the same pace at them so they didn’t, at any point, pull some sort of explanation out of their posteriors that left you wondering what you had missed. Now that I know whodunit, I almost want to re-watch the season to see if I missed any hints, but since the character didn’t have obvious motives, it would be next to impossible to read them.

If you’re going to watch this – and I highly suggest you do – you just need to bring your patience along with you. As someone who is used to watching Sherlock solve a case in 1.5 hours, watching the inquiry and resolution unfold over the course of eight episodes (about 45-50 minutes each) made me impatient. It was all worth it in the end, though.